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Does staying at home delay a child’s academic progress?

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Stay Home with Kids Survival Story Part 2 - Home-based Learning

Will our kids fall behind the learning curve after the circuit breaker?

Does staying at home delay a child’s academic progress?

Two weeks into the Circuit Breaker, we are finally coming to terms with school closures and settling into a new routine of staying home. However, it can still be challenging especially for parents with preschool kids and older siblings in primary school where Home Based Learning (HBL) is in full swing. As parents, we are concerned with the big question: “Will our kids fall behind the learning curve (especially for K2 or primary school kids)?”

After speaking with Evelyn Tan, Serious About Preschool next spoke with some enrichment professionals as well as Mommy Daphne, who home-schooled her son Aaron in his lower primary years until two years ago when he entered a mainstream school in P4. Aaron had achieved numerous awards in Maths Olympiad competitions and is an avid chess player. Having experienced both Home-schooling and Mainstream schooling, we asked for some tips on how parents grappling with HBL can approach some of the challenges we are facing.

Ok… we ‘Kan Chong’ parents just wanted more assurance that we are doing the right thing during this circuit breaker so our kids do not fall behind in their learning curve!

Photograph courtesy of Daphne

1. Follow the child’s pace/ Choose your battle

Daphne: As parents we want our children to develop a lifelong love for learning and have time to pursue their interests. To develop a love for learning, one of the things that helps is to let them learn at their own pace. Focus on their learning and improvements over one or several weeks as opposed to tracking how much work your child has completed in a day.

For example, if your child is keen to dwell deeper into a topic, say in Maths, you can take a short break from other subjects and focus more on maths that day. Even if they read beyond what the school is teaching, it is ok as that helps to develop their love and motivation for learning. You can take this a step further by encouraging them to see how their knowledge can be applied in real life too. If you are shopping for groceries online, you could give them a budget and let them order for the family. Not only are they putting their math skills in action, they are also picking up an important life skill!

Chiltern House Preschool: Keep an open mind! Occupy your child with another activity if your child finds it challenging to complete the task for the day. Revisit the resource pack on another day. You may want to have some recreational activities as backups when the child is unable to continue with the more demanding parts of your HBL, to keep learning at home fun. This may include painting, doing crafts, reading books together, or have a quick yoga session with your child to end the day

2. Independent learning goes a long way

Daphne: Let this time be a chance for them to develop self-management skills and accountability for the use of their time. Develop a schedule for the younger ones so that they know when to work hard for the fun after. Remember that this is part of the process of teaching them independent learning.

The Learning Lab: Take this opportunity to challenge your child to learn independently with paced and increased levels of responsibility. You can offer your child help with the technical setup for the online classes and material preparations (if any). Leave the rest to your child, including his or her homework. You may be surprised that even your K2 child can answer questions online independently!

3. Family bonding contributes to better learnings

Daphne: Developing strong family bonds and open communications are essential for a good home learning environment. Daily activities and household chores become good opportunities for learning too. Pizza nights can turn into a fun lesson on introduction of fractions, baking can be an introduction to volume or chemistry. Make new memories! This chance may never come again once we go back to the hustle and bustle of our post-Covid schedule.

4. Every child is different

Daphne: Recognise and love your child for the unique individual that he/ she is. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, good and bad days. Temper your expectations and do not expect them to sit for hours doing school work. If your child is a fast learner and completes the required work quickly, allow for a good break. If your child finds online learning tedious and distracting, let them move around, take frequent breaks and allow them to learn at their own pace. It is counter-productive to compare them with others or even with their own siblings, which can affect their self-esteem and make it even more stressful for everyone.

MPM math: With home-based learnings you can now observe your child’s pace and style of learning, which are precious insights to feedback to his/ her teachers, who may otherwise overlook in a normal physical class of students. Bear in mind that very child is unique and can be taught. As educators and parents, it is more important to instil confidence in them, which can go a long way in their learning journey.

5. Explore alternative learnings

Daphne: Let them pick up a hobby, spend time exploring something new like art, singing or baking. Something that they have always wanted to do but never had the time. This circuit breaker is experiment time for everyone! It is good to have a balance between academic and non-academic pursuits. Since there is increased screen time for children now, doing activities such as crafts, listening to or practising a musical instrument would be a good alternative.

Xin Zhong Wen: Learning ‘serious’ subjects can be done through fun and light-hearted ways too! A good memory can be achieved through regular practice and it is a skill that can be trained and honed through various methods. P.S. Rote learning is not one of those methods! Observe if your child is a pictorial person. Or is he or she logic-driven? Try different ways to see which method aids in their memory retention. This applies to any subject, even Chinese too!

Of course, even reading all these advice, we can still lose it on bad days almost too frequently. Take a deep breath and a step back. It is completely ok to be not ok in times like this! Lets welcome the new norms together.

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